Yesterday (Sunday, May 11) was Mother’s Day in the US and the Fourth Sunday of Easter in the Church ’round the world. The lectionary called for 1st Peter 2:19-25, which begins with our suffering, transitions into Christ’s suffering, and lands at the feet of the Good Shepherd of our souls. Psalm 23 fits perfectly.
I suffer — usually because of sin, and, very occasionally, because I follow Jesus. He, however, isn’t distant from suffering. They insulted him, abused him, and tortured him to death. He bleeds; I am healed. Does He know suffering? Absolutely. The difference between us is that He didn’t deserve it.
At the very center of everything is a mangled, victorious Lamb, surrounded by those who have suffered for His Name. The worthiness is not questioned. Crowns are removed from our silly heads and tossed on the ground before His throne. His motive is love.
Jesus paid it all so that we could be His, even in the midst of suffering for Him. Motivated by His own self-giving love, He gives and gives to us, and walks alongside us in suffering. If the main guy (Jesus) suffered, and we’re following Him, wouldn’t you think that this would cost us more than an hour a week? Following Jesus is an all-in event that revolutionizes everything. When Christians don’t represent Christ well, it could be that the heat isn’t hot enough or the commitment is signed without full comprehension of what you’ve joined.
It should tell us something about ourselves when we consider it okay that Jesus is marked by suffering while we coast in without a scratch. I, too, avoid suffering. I, too, avoid the dentist (for example.)
Yet we are cared for in all of this. Shepherded and Overseen, if you will. By the Good Shepherd — who became a Lamb –who died for the other lambs — who lives to give — who reigns forever, surrounded by other sheep with the scars of His suffering.